1. Ditch single use plastic where possible. Straws, takeaway cups and shopping bags are the obvious swaps, but there is a lot more within our home that we can easily swap.
Squeezy tomato sauce or mayonnaise bottles - make the simple swap to glass, and then the glass jars can be either recycled or used to store leftovers in fridge or freezer. You could even make overnight oats in them.
2. Shop local. I think a lot of people have now started to shop more locally and like to support local food and drink producers.
We have such a vast variety of food producers and manufacturers within Northern Ireland and a growing cohort of artisan makers and bakers. Shopping local also means using less fuel in cars, a lower carbon foot-print for our food and supporting the local economy.
Shopping in your local butcher and vegetable shop also means you can bring your own containers for deli foods and meats, again reducing the amount of plastic where you can.
3. Compost. Do you compost? Most councils provide you with a little food caddy free of charge and you can then put out with your bins or create your own compost to fertilise you garden. Free compost, yes please! You can also request a free compost bin from your local council or buy from many hardware stores.
Did you know; when food waste ends up in landfill, it decomposes anaerobically and releases methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. So it is so important to dispose of your food waste correctly.
4. Food waste. Moving on from the point above. What about we look at how to avoid food waste within our homes? In the UK, 6.7 MILLION tonnes of food is wasted per year which totals a cost of £10.2 billion each year. Each household wastes between £250-£400 of food per year. I find this a shocking statistic.1
Some tips for preventing food waste. Check your cupboards before a shop and write a list; keep your bread in the freezer and defrost as needed; wash fruit and vegetables and store in jars/tubs in fridge; freeze herbs into butters or in ice-cube trays of oil; chillies and ginger can both be frozen successfully as well as hummus, pesto and tomato puree. Have a look at items you regularly find yourself throwing out – perhaps cut them out of your food shop altogether or find recipes and new ways to use up odds and ends.
5. Say no to till receipts (especially for food items). Receipts that are printed on thermal paper are coated in a substance called BPA or BPS. These chemicals can be harmful if they are released into the environment, and they also cannot be recycled. Other items like post it notes, salad bags, crisps bags and toothpaste tubes also cannot be put into recycling bins.
There is a brilliant scheme called TerraCycle which will take many items that currently cannot be recycled i.e. crisp packets and toothpaste tubes, it’s worth searching for any local charities that work with TerraCycle in your area. They will earn from your waste!
6. Limit car journeys. This is something I always try to plan. I look to get all errands in town to fit around appointments or school pick-ups. Saves fuel and also great for time management.
7. Batch cooking dinners and lunches. Again, this will help reduce food waste, save time on busy hectic days, save any rush premade dinners that always come in plastic dishes and again will save you money.
Some overnight oats made a few days in advance for breakfast or Oaty flapjacks for lunchboxes is the perfect healthy start to you day and avoids any need for plastic. Batch cooking simple meals like Spaghetti Bolognese, cottage pie or a vegetable pasta bake takes no time at all and will ensure you are ready for the week ahead – get the whole family included so it’s even quicker (or maybe not!!).
8. Ditch cling film, tin foil, baking paper and plastic food bags. I always hear people say they just can’t, but believe me these are swaps that are so easy and you will wish you made the swap years ago.
Switch to beeswax wraps, silicon reusable baking sheets, jam jars for leftover tomatoes/onions in the fridge – or even go back to putting a plate over a bowl in the fridge. If you have little ones and make packed lunches, there are great reusable sandwich bags now on the market and stainless steel lunch boxes are a great alternative.
You will find lots of sustainable swaps available when you start to investigate!
9. Grow your own. Even if you are not green fingered at all or have no space in your garden you can easily grow lettuce, spring onions, herbs in pots and window boxes. Again they are cheap to plant, the kids can get involved in the process and believe me, salad grown by yourself makes the best salad sandwich – you’ll never go back.
10. Reducing your energy consumption. Growing up I always got shouted at for leaving lights on, now with two teenage boys I’m doing the same. Simply switching off lights, shutting down computers and laptops, using LED bulbs, switching off all idle appliances (hair dryers, straighteners etc) and turning off lights will reduce energy. Using a lower temperature wash cycle and limiting your use of tumble dryer will also dramatically reduce your energy.
By reducing energy you are limiting the number of carbon emissions in the environment. Reduced emissions results in cleaner air quality and helps sustain the resources we already have.
I hope these few tips on how to carry out a green audit in your home will help you see there are lots of ways that we can all have a more sustainable home, save money and save our planet.
1 source: Cheaperwaste.co.uk blog
My name is Laura Jayne and over the past 3 years along with my husband and 2 teenage boys, we have begun to be more aware of what we purchase and consume in our home.
I believe that everyone can make steps to reduce what we spend, reduce the waste we produce, look at products that have an adverse effect on our health. When we do this it will not only benefit us personally, but will ultimately impact the planet we all live on, in a positive way.
My best advice, is to start educating yourself and keep asking questions as to why we need to live cleaner and greener!